The other day I was attending a home inspection with one of my Buyer clients. The Home Inspector discovered some bugs that he thought were bed bugs. My Buyers asked me a good question, "Do Seller's have to disclose bed bugs to potential homebuyers?"
Bed bugs are becoming a major problem everywhere in the United States. But, the bed bug problem is huge in the state of Ohio. CBS Evening News recently had a story of the "Top 15 Worst Cities For Bed Bugs!" The State of Ohio has 4 cities in the top 15. Eeek Gads!!!
The answer to this question above might not be as straight forward as you think.
In a residential real estate transaction most states do require a property disclosure form. But, many states, including Ohio, do not specifically address bed bugs in their disclosure form. In my opinion, the state of Ohio residential property disclosure form is inadequate and needs to be greatly improved.
In the State of Ohio we have a four page Residential Property Disclosure (RPD) Form. A Seller is required to disclose any material problems or defects on their property that has occurred over the past five years.
The definition of a "material defect" is any problem with a home that would affect a Buyer's decision to purchase the home or affect the value of the property.
The State of Ohio RPD has 14 sections (A-N) that address such items as; structural, roof, water intrusion, mechanical, wood-boring insects, etc. But, there is no specific section for disclosing bed bugs. So, if there is no section in RPD do Sellers have to disclose?
I am not an attorney!!! But, if you are a Seller struggling with what to disclose then I would use common sense and follow these 2 steps:
- The best approach for any Seller is "when in doubt always disclose". Many Sellers do the exact opposite and disclose nothing. Sellers don't want to jeopardize selling their home. This is a huge, risky gamble for any Seller.
- Ask yourself, "would a reasonable person think the problem would affect the value?". If the honest answer is yes, then disclose.
You would think it would be a "no brainer" on how to answer the question, "Do Seller's have to disclose Bed Bugs?".
Yes, Yes, Yes.....you should disclose to potential Buyers any TYPE of pest, insect or rodent infestation in your home.
This is not just limited to termites, carpenter ants, bed bugs. But, also squirrels, rats, bats, etc.
Any reasonable person would think that a bed bug infestation in their home would affect the value of the property.
So, in the State of Ohio, even though we don't have a specific section in the RPD to disclose bed bugs, you would need to disclose under section N (Other Known Material Defects)
Real estate disclosure procedures vary greatly from state to state. If you have specific questions then you should contact an attorney, licensed real estate agent or your states division/department of real estate.
I really need to finish this post. Bed bugs are so creepy that my mind is playing tricks on me. As I'm writing this blog post, I'm itching everywhere. I hope this is not happening to you. LOL!
If you want a little giggle, then hover your cursor over the bed bug pics above.
Good luck out there! I hope this information is helpful.
Please feel free to contact me if you need help or have questions
Home Buyer Advocate Mike